This paper describes efforts taken to further transition life cycle assessment techniques from the latter, more detailed phases of design to the early-on conceptual phase of product development. By using modern design methodologies such as automated concept generation and an archive of product design knowledge, known as the Design Repository, virtual concepts are created and specified. Streamlined life cycle assessment techniques are then used to determine the environmental impacts of the virtual concepts. As a means to benchmark the virtual results, analogous real-life products that have functional and component similarities are identified. The identified products are then scrutinized to determine their material composition and manufacturing attributes in order to perform an additional round of life cycle assessment for the actual products. The results of this research show that sufficient information exists within the conceptual phase of design (utilizing the Design Repository) to reasonably predict the relative environmental impacts of actual products based on virtual concepts.

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